Yasuke, The First Black Samurai of Japan (Black History 365)

Before there was Afro Samurai, the first black samurai was a slave from Mozambique called Yasuke. Even though the former is a fictional character it was the first representation from my understanding of a black man as a samurai in the media, and that was sort of a big deal since all samurai were all ethnically Japanese. Afro was feared for his swordsmanship by those ethnic Japanese characters that were born and raised on the land that cultivated samurai culture. Yasuke had to work to gain respect from the Japanese while Afro already had a reputation that he inherited from his father (the number one headband) who was also a samurai and raised his son the samurai way. I believe this has a connection to nature vs nurture. Afro grew up within the samurai culture in Japan and was trained to become a lethal samurai and a legend of Japan. Conversely, Yasuke was an outsider and had to earn the trust, solidify, and maintain his name and reputation once assimilated into the samurai culture. 

What is honor, really?

  • Desperation brings out the demon in the best of men” – Jin Sakai 

      Even though a fictional character this is a profound quote from Jin Sakai from the critically acclaimed PS4 game “Ghost of Tsushima”. He saw bloodshed and terror firsthand on his homeland the island of Tsushima Japan. Adversity created an unrelenting warrior spirit that caused him to stop at nothing to defend his people against Mongol invasion by any means necessary and one of them being “Ghost tactics” which allowed him to become a frightening force and mythical as the story progresses. The way of the Ghost is seen as dishonorable when compared to the conventional Samurai way his uncle taught him, and to be honest, I understand his uncles perspective of defeating enemies in battle with honor, but when push comes to shove I don’t think it has to apply when the annihilation and brutality from foes (Mongols) are on a massive scale, and any victim is open to death. In regards to that, the Samurai way had a propensity to follow a strict code but when desperation to see your people survive, the anger to defend them becomes the mission and the tactics to get it done becomes deadlier, and less merciful. So, to what extent will you consider disregarding honor to protect yourself and the people you love from any enemy that will stop at nothing to harm and eliminate you and your people? Or do you think showing honor and mercy towards an enemy is the sensible way to deliver defeat?

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